Thursday, August 18, 2005


The Lamb's Book of Life

Most Christians are aware of the Lamb’s Book of Life, as mentioned in Revelation 21:27, “Nothing impure will ever enter [the New Jerusalem], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” It is the subject of many songs that help us rejoice that our names are written in heaven (see Luke 10:20).

The concept of the book of life seems to be based on the commonly used citizenship register of a town. When someone was born, the name was written down, and when someone died, the name was erased or blotted out. This would be similar to a membership list in a church or other organization. The book of life would record those currently alive.

Jeremiah 4:3 says, “They will be holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem.” Psalm 87:4-6 seems to indicate that God’s book is divided by nationality (as Don Richardson has suggested), “The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: This one was born in Zion.”

Names can be blotted out of God’s book because of sin and rebellion (perhaps at their death). God threatens to blot out names of covenant breakers (Deuteronomy 29:20), and saints pray for their enemies to be blotted out (Psalm 69:28 and 109:13). Moses offered to have his own name blotted out in place of others (Exodus 32:32-33). Jeremiah 17:13 suggests that unfaithful Israelites are written among the living, but not permanently, “Those who turn away will be written in the dust.”

Faithful believers, written in the book of life, receive God’s protection during their lifetimes. See 2 Kings 14:27, “Since the LORD didn’t say he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he rescued them by the hand of Jereboam.” Those in the book of life will be able to escape the deception others will succumb to, according to Revelation 13:8, “All those not written in the book of life will worship the beast,” and Revelation 17:8, “Those not in the book of life will be astonished when they see the beast.” Other believers are asked to rally to the aid of those in God’s book. See Philippians 4:3, “Help those women whose names are in the book of life.”

Those who believe to eternal life will not have their names removed at their physical death, but will remain on the list as living citizens for all eternity. Daniel 12:1, “Your people, everyone whose name is found written in the book, will be delivered.” Revelation 3:5, “He who overcomes I will never blot out of the book of life.” Perhaps the best known reference is Revelation 20:11-15, “ . . . The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. . . . If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Keep reading with your eyes open.

Friday, August 12, 2005


KP Said It So Well

One of the articles I have on my list to write is about the common abuse of 1 Corinthians 10:13. But my friend Keith has already said it so well on his blog, "God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle."

He says, "How frequently we hear these words offered in pressing times, usually preceded by the words, 'Like the Bible says. . .' It's interesting that what many people mean by their paraphrase is something along the order of 'God will keep you from being overwhelmed.' But is that what is actually promised? I don't think so. The verse that people have in mind when they say this actually has to do with temptation. . . ."

Read the whole article.
And when you read your Bible, read with open eyes.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005


More About the New Jerusalem

It is astonishing what we learn when we read the Bible with our eyes open. We are truly astonished to see what we (and others) have missed, though it is right there in black and white.

Revelation 21:9-10 tells us, “One of the seven angels . . . came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”

Some are so astonished by this that they don’t believe it, preferring to keep on believing that the city is the eternal home of the redeemed, instead of believing that it is the redeemed themselves.

For example, Randy Alcorn, in his excellent book, Heaven, comments (page 244) that the city can be symbolic of the church and still be a real city where we will live forever, comparing it to a wedding ring that symbolizes his commitment to his wife and is also a real, physical ring of gold. Of course, it can be both, but the text never says it is the place we will live. But it clearly says it is a picture of the Church.

In chapter 1, John sees seven candlesticks (verse 12). Later, he is told that the candlesticks are seven churches (verse 20). Is it possible that they are symbolic of seven churches and also seven literal candlesticks? Yes, it is possible, but the text directs us to understand how to think of them.

In chapter 17, we read an exact parallel to the presentation of the Holy City. “One of the seven angels . . . came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters.’ . . . Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast . . . ." The angel proceeded to explain various aspects of the vision: heads, precious stones, pearls, gold, etc. Clearly, we are to understand this, not as a woman on a weird animal or as both the literal beings plus something else, but as a representation of the evil of Babylon.

So, when we come to chapter 21, we should likewise understand the precious stones, pearls, gold, streets, gates, etc., not as a literal city where we will live, but as a representation of the good of the Bride. The angel explicitly said he was showing the bride, the wife of the Lamb.

I have no doubt that in the resurrection we will live with very physical bodies on a very physical new earth, probably in great cities or small towns or rural areas. But let’s not force the description of the church in Revelation 21, against the clear statement of verse 9, into a futuristic portrayal of our eternal home. Let’s read with our eyes open.

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